Category Archives: Musings

Last Song

 

Hummingbird

As a boy I had the distinct pleasure of accompanying a local ornithologist on bird banding adventures where we would string fine nets across the marshes and forests of Charleston, SC. Sometimes a Grosbeak or a Sharpshin would punish my hands as I tried to free them, but it was always worth it to hold them for an instance, band and weigh their fragile bodies, and hope to see them and their brethren the next year.

Now as an adult and living in the big city of Atlanta, I wake up every morning to the intricate songs of birds that I can’t believe are able to navigate the incessant dangers of the modern world.

I cringe when I hear stories of southern hunters taking out hawks and owls because they prey on their precious quail and doves. Or watching a not-so-innocent house cat scope out my bird feeders.

Reading this article on migrating birds was the equivalent of waking up on one future morning and the air being filled with nothing but silence.

New South

New_South

Heading shrimp off the boat; cotillion classes and confirmations; shooting clays and shucking oysters; and wrought iron fences surrounding the soft safety net of abiding colonial homes would all satisfy a particular southern lens. But that is a sliver of a much larger picture.

Over time I’ve had the chance to live in various southern states: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Carrying a camera through these environs, I’ve tried to find my place with it. What I have discovered is a variety that only rare chances of history, geography and biology could ever possibly create.

The South has never been just black and white but a colorful infusion of different cultures and ethnicities since the beginning of human time. It is a Puerto Rican woman astride a horse in Ybor City, Florida. It is an Indian model in Atlanta, Georgia. And a young Charleston, South Carolina girl with shotgun shells for nails.

Spruce-fir forests similar to Canadian environments propel rivers and kayakers to oceans that carry Manatees, Great Whites and professional surfers. Southern workers weld and build products that are shipped and flown to the farthest reaches of the Earth while we embrace globalization in our smallest communities.

This contrasting and constantly changing amalgamation of time, place and reach shapes the South as I see it. When I am lucky, I may just convey some small part of it in pictures.

NCAA

I post this because I know quite a few folks who have been hard at work on the ncaa.com website. Burning the midnight oil at Turner Broadcasting’s headquarters in Atlanta, Drupal developers are bringing some very cool functionality to the Web. Aside from the impressive organization of content, live streaming video, social media, developer toolkit and much more, I especially like the way they have integrated ads in to the experience.

This is a great use case of a media company using open source effectively to build a profitable and user-friendly experience online.

“I Listen Therefore I Am”

NPR

Visited the studios of NPR recently. Such an iconic brand that continues to evolve despite the emergence of many other communication channels. In fact, they were one of the first media companies to develop an iPad application – it is still one of the better ones out there today. I also attended a keynote luncheon where Vivian Schiller spoke. When asked where she is taking NPR she replied, NPR is in a unique position where the audience defines and takes us there.

Rally to Restore Sanity

Rally_to_Restore_Sanity

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I happened to be in Washington, D.C. for the Online News Association 2010 conference when the Rally to Restore Sanity took place. Needless to say, I took a little walk down to the National Mall to see what all the fuss was about. There wasn’t much fuss, just a few hundred thousand people blowing mainly positive steam on a beautiful fall day in the nation’s capital. I’m neither a Democrat or a Republican, but I do need satire and sarcasm, and John Stewart and Stephen Colbert certainly fit the bill.

I produced the above collage from a few pictures I took that day.

Happy Halloween Deadpool

Deadpool

This is a little taste of dark geek humor. I originally took this photo in Philadelphia about a month ago at the Christ Church Burial Ground. Benjamin Franklin is buried here along with some other original signers of the Declaration of Independence. I had a little fun with it and added the names of a few technology companies that recently met their maker (click here for a larger view).

Golf is Not My Game

Robert_Golf

Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, one would think I would have learned how to play golf. Family play. Friends play. Colleagues play. But I do not play. Not well anyway.

After graduating from Clemson University, I made my way out West. I peddled, paddled, climbed, hiked, and some times even crawled across all kinds of varying terrain, but never once did my trajectory meet a fairway.

Then came graduate school. I was studying business. And you know the saying, a lot of business gets done on the course. Fair enough. So I turned to a classmate who had actually competed in high school and was nothing short of a pro. He gave me some old clubs and took me under his wing….for an hour or two. At least I learned how to keep score and drive the cart.

Directly after obtaining my MBA, I took up a job in marketing and public relations. It wasn’t long after I had gotten over the initial discomfort of being in a new company that my boss  announced there would be an upcoming golf tournament where my participation was required. Yes!

The morning began bright and beautiful as I looked out across the well manicured fairways at Lakeridge golf course. My boss, Jennifer, and I were paired with Charles and Melissa. They worked at a creative agency in town. Charles was also the president of the local advertising association.

It is important to note that while I was at least dressed to be outside, the other three were costumed in outfits cut directly from a golf catalogue. But I didn’t feel awkward at all. Nope, not a bit.

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Banshee Bungee

Banshee_Bungee

I post this image of some guys working a Banshee Bungee at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida, not so much because it is a fun photo, but because of what a stranger came up to me on the beach and said after I took it. He joked,  “Most folks would think it is pretty crazy to launch yourself in to the air on a skim board with a bungee cord, but I want to shake the guy’s hand who decided it was safe enough to get in their way and take some photos.” Ha! I turned 36 this weekend. Guess I still haven’t learned.

GASP…arilla!

Gasparilla

The basic premise of Gasparilla is really quite simple. Close off two adjoining streets, parade a bunch of pirates down one of them, and invite people to come out and party on the other one. Sounds easy enough, but the reality is Gasparilla is a logistical bear that Tampa Bay has been trying to perfect for more than 100 years.

Gasparilla_4

The big invasion can attract upwards of 350,000 people, and they don’t come to sit idly by. Nope, they come to party and parade their own versions of pirate garb to fellow marauding mateys, while collecting as many Mardi Gras beads as possible. Some residents, especially along the parade route, feel that Gasparilla is out of control. Having witnessed 3 such events I can hardly blame them for their concerns. The amount of trash that ends up on the streets and in the waters of Tampa Bay is staggering – the noise is deafening -there are inevitably fights and arrests – and you can be sure it attracts Tampa’s best and brightest. All of this has most self-respecting retirees fleeing for more sheltered pastures. But when I put my branding and marketing hat on I see it as a tradition the city can’t afford to quit.

Gasparilla_2

Many cities struggle to define themselves. You’ll often see destinations go through rebranding exercises every time there is a new head of marketing because no one can truly agree on what best communicates the location. Tampa, on the other hand, is steeped in pirate lore and will always be closely tied to the many bays, rivers, and estuaries that served as hiding places for these buccaneers who now, by the way, can play a mean game of football. People love events that are done well, and it is clear Gasparilla has found the sweet spot.

Gasparilla_5

The annual economic impact of Gasparilla is said to be $46 million annually. In an economy where people are struggling to put food on the table, that’s some much needed change. To alleviate some past transgressions, this year an additional 100 police officers and many more port-o-pottys were added to the parade route.  Both were a welcome addition. The strategy of moving people downtown to the music stages was also a wise improvement.

Gasparilla_3

All in all it was a fun time, and I certainly enjoyed capturing a bit of the revelry. The rain kept some people away, but for the most part it went unfelt.  A few days later it appears concerned residents have returned to their soft, cozy homes, the streets are clean, parade floats have been put up, and some where a poor turtle is swimming along with a string of beads stuck in its throat, gasping for the next Gasparilla.

More Gasparilla photos on Flickr.